South Africa; A soul-searching vacation

Wednesday 19th Aug 2020 |

Here are some of South Africa’s top wellness experiences for travellers to nurture the mind, body, and spirit on a 2021 post-lockdown trip

Never has wellness been more relevant, with health and immunity now at the forefront of consciousness after months spent at home during lockdown, and entirely new concepts added to the plethora of health concerns – from Zoom fatigue and maskne to the loneliness induced by self-isolation.

With travel brands such as TUI* confirming a surge in bookings for next summer, consumers are looking ahead to 2021 for their postponed holidays and big trips and many will be seeking a holiday which resets the mind and nourishes the body inside and out.

Although traditionally not considered a wellness destination, South Africa was predicted as an emerging wellness travel destination for 2020** and is seeing wellness retreats and holistic health activities emerge across the country.

South Africa is home to wide open spaces and beautiful natural landscapes, incredible wildlife, welcoming friendly people, and fresh produce, all of which can nurture the mind and the soul without having to set foot in a spa (although there are many of those too). Here is a pick of some of the wellness highlights in South Africa….

South African safaris for the soul

Going on safari is intrinsically about wellness – the magic and sense of calm that travellers feel when driving through the bush surrounded by open skies, wildlife and abundant nature. South Africa is the birthplace of safari, and long before “wellness” even become a buzz word in travel, locals and travellers alike have been drawn to the South African bush, to spot animals in their natural habitats, camp out under wide starry skies, and experience nature through smell, taste, sound and sight; to slow down, calm the mind and reconnect with the natural world. Being outside for a large part of the day, focusing on small details and switching off 3G can induce a sense of calm to rival any yoga class or new wellness treatment.

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South Africa is home to an array of diverse and beautiful game reserves for travellers to embark on a safari and reap the health benefits, but one example of a retreat that is purposefully weaving together safari with the traditional facets of wellness is The Healing Safari in partnership with andBeyond, which combines a traditional safari with yoga and wellness activities. The retreat starts in Cape Town, before moving to KwaZulu-Natal and involves healing practises with renowned healing safari guide, Dr. Tanya Pergola, wildlife experiences, yoga, meditation, storytelling and traditional African healing rituals. The best time to see wildlife in Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal is from March to May and September to November. http://thehealingsafari.com/south-africa/

Surfing, yoga and conservation on the Garden Route

Surfing reaps an array of health benefits, from cardiovascular fitness and core strength, to soaking up Vitamin D and feeling rejuvenated by a morning spent outside and in the ocean. Love Surf Yoga at Villa Sol on South Africa’s Garden Route, takes these benefits to the next level with its health and wellness surf retreats that focus on nurturing all aspects of “the self”, combining surfing with vinyasa-inspired yoga, breath work, meditation, conscious eating, community and conservation work.

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As well as harnessing surfing and yoga skills, travellers will positively impact the local community, with part of the proceeds donated to Wild Ark, a mission to protect and conserve the world’s ecosystems, a Board Swapping Programme which gives a discount to any travellers that bring a surfboard to give to a local surf school in need, a Water for Kids programme, and volunteer retreats where guests can join a regular retreat for a lower price by volunteering for local community projects.  South Africa is an incredible surfing destination year-round. www.lovesurfyoga.com

The calming magic of the bush 

Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat, located in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa’s Western Cape, is surrounded by open plains and ancient bush art sites dating back 10,000 years and uses its incredible natural landscape to inspire peace and relaxation for its guests.

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Focusing on holistic wellbeing from scenic game drives, outdoor pursuits and rock art excursions to the water colour sets and yoga mats provided in each suite, the luxury resort is the ideal place to reconnect with the ancient land on where it sits and experience the calmness and magic of the South African wilderness. The Riverside Gazebo, part of the award-winning safari retreat spa is perched on the calm waters of the Boontjes River and the ideal place for a treatment surrounded by water and nature. The best time to visit the Western Cape is between September and April.www.bushmanskloof.co.za

Craving more?

*TUI reported in August 2020 that holiday bookings for summer 2021 have increased by 145%

**Based on the 2020 Virtuoso Wellness Community survey